The Rev. Erwin Allan Ruhlig, age 81, of Athens, Ill., and a former resident of Sturgis and pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Sturgis, received his crown of glory at his home Thursday afternoon, June 3, 2010.
He was born Oct. 30, 1928, in Dexter, a son of the late Emil and Hazel (Campbell) Ruhlig. The sainted Rev. Carl Brauer baptized, confirmed, married and ordained him. He grew up in the Dexter area, vegetable farming with his father and selling the produce to the Detroit markets. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in Germany during the Korean War. Upon discharge, he attended Concordia Theology Seminary in Springfield, Ill., earning his college and theological degrees and graduating in 1961.
On Aug. 7, 1959, he married Karen Keller at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor. The Lord blessed their union with five children.
Pastor Ruhlig served his vicarage year at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Miami. He served parishes in St. James Lutheran Church, Northrop, Minn. (1961-1967), Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Indianola, Iowa (1967-1974) and Trinity Lutheran Church, Sturgis (1974-1998). In 1998, he moved to Athens, Ill., and served as the executive director for the Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ (OAFC), a youth evangelism program serving all of the United States. After retiring, he served as the business manager of OAFC. Training and experience taught him to be an excellent listener, counselor and evangelist.
He is survived by his loving and dedicated wife of 50 years, Karen; two sons, Steven (Vanessa) Ruhlig of Champaign, Ill., and the Rev. Michael (Tammy) Ruhlig of Tuscola, Ill.; two daughters, Beth (Kristian) Fosse of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Sarah (Derek) Dunnagan of Peoria, Ill.; one granddaughter, Zoe Ruhlig; eight grandsons, Ethan and Judah Ruhlig, Jonathan and Bradley Ruhlig and Adam, Aaron, Jacob and Joseph Fosse; three sisters, Alice Gall of Ann Arbor, Helen (Howard) Schafer of Pioneer, Ohio, and Lois (Donald) Lutz of Jeffersonville, Ind.; one brother, Albert (Madonna) Ruhlig of Dexter; mother-in-law, Hazel Keller of Leesburg, Fla.; sister-in-law, Patricia Murphy of Adamsville, Tenn.; and numerous nieces and nephews covering four generations.
He was preceded in death by one son, Daniel Ruhlig; two brothers; and two sisters.
For God so loved Erwin that he gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, and rise in victory for Erwin, so that if Erwin believes in Jesus as his Savior from sin, Erwin shall not parish, but Erwin shall have everlasting life. (refer to John 3:16)
A family and friends gathering will take place from 5-7 p.m.Saturday at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Athens, Ill., where services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Following the service Pastor Ruhlig will be transported to Sturgis. The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Hackman Family Funeral Homes Hackman Chapel, 114 S. Nottawa St., Sturgis.
Funeral services celebrating the life Pastor Erwin A. Ruhlig will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sturgis. The Rev. Bill Gates will officiate. A graveside committal will follow the service at Sturgis Memorial Gardens.
The family suggests those wishing to make a memorial donation in Pastor Ruhlig’s memory consider Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ, P.O. 175, Nokomis, IL 62075.